What made me prone to write this website? Why I wanted to share what I learned in order to help other people out there? The answer is pain! I went through so much pain (and I am still going through) that I want other people to avoid it. Also, I understood there are so many misconceptions in the current medicine that made me realize something needs to change. And to change something you need to act! So, this is my action in the hope to change these misconceptions and to help other people live a healthier life.
At the time I am writing I am 27 years old. Looking to my past I can see that my life overall was great until my nightmare began. I have always been that guy that was quite good in everything he was doing, not because I was better than other people but simply because I was putting more effort and passion than the others for reaching my goals. And so, I was always one of the best in my classes (from primary school to the university), I was good at football (I played several years at professional level, dreaming one day to reach the maximum division) and I had a satisfactory social life (I was the one always organizing events and parties with friends). All of a sudden, all of this disappeared! I was a completely destroyed man!
At the age of 17, I was still dreaming to have a professional football career, but I started to have many injuries. And it was weird because it was always on the right side of my leg: muscle strains, knee problems, ankle problems, groin pain, foot pain. All of these only on the right side.
All these injuries made me realize that my dream of becoming a professional football player would have stayed a dream for the rest of my life. And this is why I decided to enroll at the university at the age of 19 (Figure 1): I chose Electronic Engineering and in the meantime I was still playing football at a lower level, just to have some fun and to earn little money.
My university career was going great (I then graduated with honors at the end of my studies), but even if playing football at lower intensities I was still having a lot of injuries on my right side: I had a muscle strain in the same exact spot of my right quadriceps femoris five times in a row. This is when I realized that something was wrong!
The orthopedist that was following me at the time supposed the presence of a vertebral asymmetry. The Rx exam of pelvis and spine confirmed it (Figure 2): scoliosis, with pelvis rotation (left side 17mm higher than the right side) and shorter right leg. I had kyphosis and lordosis too. To counteract the asymmetry, he made the worst decision ever! He said I needed to wear particular insoles to balance the asymmetry (meaning the right insole higher than the left one).
I will understand only later in life that all my problems were starting from the head, not from the feet. Notice in the Rx how much the head is tilted on the right (cranial distortion). The shorter right leg? Just an alignment asymmetry coming from body’s compensations of the cranial distortion. But at the time I was unaware of this, so I went to a podologist for these insoles and he did specific exams to study and understand how my feet were bearing the weight of my body. Also in this case, the asymmetry was clear: in the right foot there was a maximum pressure peak of 560kPa (on the big toe), while in the left one the maximum peak was 365kPa (Figure 3). And this makes sense if you think that my head was tilted to the right and so my right side of the body had to bear its weight and compensate for it. This would also explain where all my injuries came from.
I started to wear these insoles for every activity and something changed, but for the worst: I had strange feeling in my mouth, it was tiring to talk, my mandible was deviating to the right, my scoliosis was increasing and my face became more asymmetrical. So, wearing insoles was actually aggravating my asymmetry and my cranial distortion.
In Figure 4, the cranial asymmetry can be noticed by comparing the level of the eyes (horizontal right line) with the occlusion plane (horizontal green line): the right eyes is lower than the left one, while the occlusion plane has a slope in the opposite direction. After 12 months my asymmetry worsened: one sign is the right incisor coming more in front of the left one. Notice a bit of hair loss too.
Many of you will not be able to realize the differences because they are subtle, but I have learnt that even a single millimeter in our mouth makes a huge difference in our body.
As soon as I noticed that something wrong was going on, I stopped wearing the insoles. I was unaware of my cranial distortion, but there was one thing I noticed: I started having a small squint. At the time, it was really absurd thinking that insoles were able to cause strabismus, but that was the reality and now I can say that it was logical: our body is an unique system and what happens to the head have repercussions to the feet and vice versa.
I visited an optometrist for my eyes problem and he confirmed anisocoria and eyes divergence. But he said something that actually changed my life: ‘All your problems come from your occlusion’. Well, he was more than right! So, he referred me to a TMJ specialist.
The TMJ specialist realized my problems and he decided to start a treatment: the appliance I was wearing was similar to a Function Generating Bite (Figure 5). I remember that the feelings with it was good: I always wanted to have it, removing it just for meals. When I was not wearing it, feelings were odd: I had sensations of my right side of the face collapsing, with strange muscular tensions.
With this appliance in the mouth, feelings were fine, so I was wearing it for every activity (sports, studying, etc). But I remember one strange thing. One day one of my friend said: ‘Is your face getting longer?’. Another day my sister said: ‘Is your nose changing shape?’. I was noticing the same thing but I was not able to explain it, so I replied: ‘I think that it is the appliance’. You know, we all grow up thinking that our bones are immutable and that our face is what it is and cannot change. But, the reality is that my face was changing! I did not know the effect of bone remodeling, I did not know that actually our face can change depending on the forces applied by the tongue and teeth to the maxilla (as John Mew successfully proved), I did not know that malocclusion was just a symptoms of a poor craniofacial development. I knew nothing! I was just trusting the doctors.
I also remember another thing: at some point in the treatment I started feeling a bit tired and a bit of foggy brain. And sometimes I was sad, but not sad for particular reasons, just sad, a kind of depression. Also in this case, I was not able to link neither my brain fog or my tiredness or my depression to the appliance.
Now I can explain the causes of brain fog or of my tiredness, while about depression is quite complicated. When it comes to psychology is very difficult to obtain clear statements, but what I can say is that the body is really an unique system: head to feet, body to mind, everything is connected. So, if your body is suffering in some way, so it will be your brain and psyche. Full stop!
Overall I was happy with the treatment and so we skipped to the next step: an upper splint, similar to the one in Figure 6. This was really hard and thick and sensations were weird from the first moments. It is really difficult to explain, but I was feeling stunned and dazed, as if I was not present, sleeping. Indeed, It was just the beginning of a real nightmare!
It was November 2015, I was 24 years old. Muscular tensions started to arise in the neck, especially the sternocleidomastoideus was really tight. I reported this to my TMJ specialist and the answer was: ‘It is normal, your body needs to adapt‘. Another lesson learnt: your body does not need to adapt, it immediately feels if something is right or wrong!
Day after day the situation was worsening: muscle stiffness propagated through the head (tension-type headache, mainly temporal and occipital areas) and back (especially in the upper trapezius). I started to feel chronic fatigue, like if I was too heavy and always tired.
I remember times where I was exactly feeling my head was not able to stay on the spine, collapsing as if it was too heavy. I got increased forward head posture and lordosis. My nasal septum deviated: blood and crusts were always present in the right nostril. Furthermore, my ability to sleep significantly diminished: I suffered insomnia and I was able to sleep just few hours per night. Sleeping was the only way for me to forget about the pain, but now I was not able to sleep either. My life was a continuous pain!
Then, my skin on the entire body started to chap like sand (a kind of desquamation, but with the peeled skin that was very fine). Also, I had urinary problems in form of incontinence. Muscle tensions further propagate to the face and scalp: I started to have massive hair loss (Figure 7). For me, all of these was a clear sign: my body was going through destruction!
Also neurological problems came. I suffered terrible brain fog. I was not able to remember anything: I was writing down everything I was doing or conversation I was having as a remainder. I was not able to remember words in both English and Italian (my native language), checking every time the spelling on the internet. I was not able to think, reason and do simple computations, as everything was not clear. I had vision problems: my eyes were too slow and I was not able to focus on anything. My eyes were easily tired and burning. I also experienced erectile dysfunction. Physically and mentally, I was totally destroyed!
Having all these symptoms, I decided to see a neurologist that prescribed a brain and cervical MRI: nothing came out from this exam. In the meanwhile, muscular tensions continued to increase and further propagated. My head and face were so tight that it was very difficult to perform any movement (eat, talk, smile): I was not able to normally open or close my mouth due to masseter stiffness. Frontal region was so in tension that the feeling was like my frontal muscles were not able to fit under the skin, as they were exploding. I had ears pain, as the ears were attached to the underlying tissues. Also, when I was talking, my girlfriend was saying ‘Luca, I do not understand what you are saying!‘. Indeed, I had strange feeling when talking and my speech was slurred.
It was April 2016. All these symptoms happened in just five months: everything was so quick, almost unbelievable! And this is also what I heard from my TMJ specialist: ‘This cannot be true, a splint cannot do this. You know Luca, sometimes people have some bad experience in the past that traumatize them and they do not even know it. Maybe you should visit a specialist and see if psycho-drugs can help you‘. What? Until five months ago I was fine, my life was ok. I knew I was not mad! Luckily I understood that the only thing that changed in my life was the splint. Even if I was not able to explain why, but I knew the splint was the problem.
I dismissed the TMJ specialist and I started to look for another one. Some symptoms were diminishing, new others appeared: feet pain, further difficulty to talk (as my mouth was not coordinated), vomit, voice loss. As you can see in Figure 8, I tried everything for my back and neck muscle pain:
- Cold and heat therapy.
- A collar.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
- Osteopathic treatments.
- Chiropractic treatments.
- Laser therapy.
- Inversion table.
Nothing worked! These were not the solutions for me: again, I interrupted any treatment. I was feeling completely hopeless and in constant massive pain. In these conditions I started having some strange thoughts: you know, after all, life was not that great…
And then, I was a wasted man, completely destroyed! Muscles were so tight that standing up was a huge pain. Doing every normal activity was a huge pain, even talking! The only relief was coming from lying down: I spent more than three months in a bed, completely unable to move or standing up for a walk, speaking just in essential situations to avoid pain. I also had tics. If that was life, I was regretting to be born and alive in this world!
I was avoiding any contact with other people, because talking was a massive pain for me, with headaches and neck pain. Many friend wanted to come visiting me, but I did not want to see anyone, because it would have been only a suffering for me and so this is how I lost many friends. The closest friends that visited me were not able to recognize me, my face was completely changed.
I was looking to find other specialists able to help but many times the answer was: “What you are saying it is not possible! Insoles and splints cannot do this, especially in such a short time.“. Doctors were always proposing psychological factors as a cause, my parents were thinking I was depressed, my relatives were not believing to my story. I was literally feeling alone, alone against the world!
I was really tired of everything and I lost trust in every single person, from doctors to people close to me. I thought this was the end for me! I did not know if it was better to accept all this pain for the rest of my life or if dying was not that bad after all.
Fortunately, every species has a survival instinct. Probably I had to thank it if I realized that, despite my brain fog, I was still an engineer! And, given a problem, engineers have to find a solution and this is the way I did. I started studying everything, every single theory available and see which one was matching my case. And this is how I came out with what you can find in this website. My problem? A cranial distortion (see Figure 9)!
I started to look for a solution. Some symptoms decreased, new ones arose, like irritable bowel syndrome, painful and swollen veins in the right arm, starry vision, pain in the right side of the chest. Overall I lost almost 10 kilograms. But after three months I was finally able to stand up and walk again.
I did the Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) test, finding out that in some position of the head my jugular veins were compressed, impeding blood flow to the brain. This exam is done for Multiple Sclerosis patients and, more interesting, my symptoms were exactly the ones Multiple Sclerosis patients experience at the beginning.
Here it is where I really started realizing that there are many misconceptions in the current medical world. Many diseases, syndromes and disorders are wrongly attributed to genetic and others have unknown causes. So, I continued to study in a broader way, trying to find answers to many questions I had on the human body. Every day has been (and still is) a learning day.
I always observe people around me. Every person I meet is a chance to learn. Every article I read is a chance to discover new points of view. The human body is so complex that there is always room to learn new things, but I came out with a thought: there is always a reason for everything! Maybe for me it was simpler to understand my problems started from my poor craniofacial development because they arose suddenly after a splint therapy. But imagine you grow up, you are ageing and these symptoms slowly appears year after year. How can you know that craniofacial development is to blame? Unfortunately, I also think there is no interests from the medical world to find the real causes of the diseases: I do not want to be a person that believe in conspiracy theories, but I learned on my skin that treating symptoms is the way for the medical world to make profits.
Now, I still have a long way to go for returning to a complete full life, but overall I improved a lot! I started to return enjoying some aspects of life and I am seeing the light after the darkness. After all, there is always the sunshine after a storm!